Internet Voting Test

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 11/6/2012 | 52 comments

Pablo Valerio
While Americans vote in their general election today, a perhaps more interesting election happened this past weekend.

The Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta (pop. 817,498) asked people to vote on their favorite color jelly bean. They asked them to register to vote as usual but instead of going to a polling station, that asked people to use their computer to vote securely and confidentially over the Internet, selecting their favorite color. While this seems silly, the goal was to test Scytl's Internet voting solution.

Once a voter's registration has been accepted, the voter is issued a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that is required in order to vote in the Jellybean Election. Voting took place between 8:00 a.m. MST on October 22nd and 12:00 p.m. MST on November 2nd. Results were announced shortly after the election (red won) and every voter can verify that his or her ballot has been counted using a special code embedded in the secure envelope. Here's a video on how they hoped it would go:

It is too early to tell how things went, but a report is due in January 2013 that will detail how the voting process fared. We hope to follow up then. So far, things seem to have gone very well.

Laura Kennedy, director of elections for the City of Edmonton, said:

We are very excited about this innovative, fun and true-to-life mock election that we are undertaking using Scytl's system. Our next General Election will take place on October 21, 2013. Therefore, we want to get as much information as possible on the security, usability and other attributes of Scytl's internet voting solution as well as general feedback from voters on their comfort level in using internet voting as an option during next year's General Election.

Meanwhile, for the US presidential election, the State of Alaska has gone the extra mile, allowing all of its citizens to register online, fill out their voting ballots online, and send them back as electronic documents over the Internet.

But Alaska is not using a complete Internet voting platform -- what they are doing is letting people use the Internet to register, receive the voting ballot, mark their choices, and deliver the "paper ballot" over the Internet. Scytl has provided the technology, but does not manage the entire process, county officials do. Each printed ballot contains a certification code to ensure it comes from a registered voter and can only be used once.

Unfortunately, there is no standard for testing electronic voting systems. According to the US Election Assistance Commission:

Currently, a single comprehensive standard for developing and testing Internet voting systems does not exist. Pilot project sponsors often drew heavily from variety of standards and requirements to develop and implement Internet voting systems. The majority of systems were not developed or tested to a single standard; often several standards, supplemented with additional requirements, were used.

Many countries, states, and counties used or are starting to use some forms of electronic voting, and each have developed their certification standards to choose a provider and solution.

It is very important that city, county, state, and federal CIOs start looking at the technology seriously. In 2008, the State of Florida conducted a complete audit of Scytl's voting system for the absentee voters going through every line of the source code and certifying the solution.

Switzerland, where participative democracy is the norm, is one of the countries were Internet voting has been used in several elections, including referendums. In the Canton of Neuchâtel, Internet voting has been used since 2004 to carry out from three to six citizen consultations, binding electoral processes and referendums each year, with over 60 percent of the votes cast via the Internet.

It is only a matter of time before Internet voting is the norm. But it will up to CIOs to test, implement, and secure Internet voting. Share your thoughts on the biggest hurdles to e-voting below.

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mejiac   Internet Voting Test   11/30/2012 2:31:52 PM
A new norm
It's great to see that a virtual solution for voting is been tested and not seen as something negative. Though there will always be people that want to feel of placing and submitting a ballot physically, a virtual solution allows for far greater accuracy, cost reduction (no need to set up so many voting locations) and speed of turn around.

So keep on testing. I personally submit my ballots through mail mostly because of the convenience (no lines).

I mean today if you're a stokeholder, proxies are voted online
epicbusinesssuccess   Internet Voting Test   11/28/2012 3:41:46 PM
I wonder
I wonder how many more people would vote if you could vote from the convenience of your home computer?
SaneIT   Internet Voting Test   11/12/2012 7:30:41 AM
Re: How do they handle fraud?
That's interesting, I wonder how they combat voter fraud in that case? I'm assuming you could have gone to another precinct and voted there with just the name of someone who lives in the area.  On a small scale that's not going to be very effective but an organized effort could easily change at least the local elections.
impactnow   Internet Voting Test   11/9/2012 12:37:42 PM
Re: How do they handle fraud?
I didn't even get asked for my address or SSN just my name when I voted. I could have been anyone.
stotheco   Internet Voting Test   11/9/2012 11:54:23 AM
Re: Internet voting
Ah yes, that sounds valid. I didn't consider that.
SaneIT   Internet Voting Test   11/9/2012 7:07:24 AM
Re: How do they handle fraud?
The US does it by being able to ask for personal information.  I used to live in an area that didn't require a photo ID but was always asked for my address and SSN, not something you're likely to give to a friend.
Gigi   Internet Voting Test   11/9/2012 1:57:17 AM
Re: Internet voting
Stotheco, I agree with you and there are lots of chances for cheating or fake votes. But I think such cheatings can be restricted by using a SSN or any other ID based voting mechanism.
vnewman   Internet Voting Test   11/8/2012 8:17:22 PM
Re: In person not the most secure
I would imagine that for voting by web to work in the US they would make it a requirement that you will need to imput more than just your SSN or a voter reg number.  I can forsee a situation where: your fingerprints are first placed into a central data base when you register to vote, then when it is time to vote, you'll need a fingerprint scanner of some sort on your computer to match your identity to what's in the database, or perhaps they will opt for facial recognition.  

Then once you are positively identified, you will be able to cast your cyber ballot.  

I can't see the US goverment allowing for a "just login here and we'll trust that you are you" type of setup.
impactnow   Internet Voting Test   11/8/2012 1:01:21 PM
In person not the most secure
I would love to see internet voting! I actually think it would be secure than what we have today. When I showed up to vote in NJ on Tuesday no one even asked for an id. I gave my name and address and I was given a ballot! On the web they could require specific information that would identify up as a registered voter and make the process more secure.
Pablo Valerio   Internet Voting Test   11/8/2012 7:50:11 AM
Re: How do they handle fraud?
what about voting for others over the internet?

@SaneIT, I think voting is personal, nobody should be able to vote for you. Also the ID issue needs to be resolved. How is it possible the the US has millions of citizens without IDs? I know it is a hot political issue, but I believe a basic ID should be free and "required" to vote.
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